Read the first volume of Drifting Classroom this morning. I don't think I'll be continuing that particular investment in historical manga-literature.
The art is extremely stiff, with characters who can't seem to run in a natural fashion, bizarre gape-mouthed expressions, and the designs in general give the impression of not particularly naturalistic drawings of dolls. Mind you, this isn't the sort of loose Disneyesque character design which Tezuka and his imitators used to produce - those are warm, charming, a little shabby at times, perhaps, jokey, yes - but not stiff.
The panel design suggests that the impression is intentional - very rigid, confined, ruled, patterned. Except when something violent or disturbing happens, then the gutters disappear, the panels fill up the whole of the page, and blood & violence is lovingly, delicately inflicted upon Umezu's doll-people, who suddenly come alive with fear, pain and horror.
I don't think that Drifting Classroom is my sort of thing. It seems designed to encourage all of my worst anti-social bordering on sociopathic inclinations. Not only could I not sympathize with any of the characters, but I found myself cheering up a bit when the little dead-eyed gape-mouthed doll-children started bleeding & wailing. That's not a good place to be going.
It's a little depressing that this is considered a classic.